[Arnold Schwarzenegger] wears no bike helmet, runs red lights, and rips past DO NOT ENTER signs without seeming to notice them, and up one-way streets. When he wants to cross three lanes of fast traffic he doesn’t so much as glance over his shoulder but just sticks out his hand and follows suit, assuming that whatever is behind him will stop. His bike has ten speeds but he uses just two: zero, and pedalling as fast as he can….
It isn’t until he is forced to stop at a red light that he makes meaningful contact with the public. A woman pushing a baby stroller and talking on a cell phone crosses the street right in front of him, and does a double take. “Oh…my…God,” she gasps into her phone. “It’s Bill Clinton!” She’s not ten feet away and she keeps talking to the phone, as if the man is unreal. “I’m here with Bill Clinton.”
“It’s one of those guys who has had a sex scandal,” says Arnold, smiling.
coming soon….the new essays (in bold) are awesome!!!
In the Spring of 2010, when I was interning at Norton, I had the pleasure of helping revise the inimitable Norton Reader. I remember when I first read Jennifer Sinor's fabulous essay “Confluences”. I shared it with everyone I knew. I even Tumbl’d it. I can’t recommend it enough.
“We shook hands and I said I liked your reading and he thanked me but didn’t say anything back, I guess because he didn’t like my poetry and because Tomás couldn’t lie for the sake of politeness when it came to the most sacrosanct of arts. I was surprised how furious I became and how fast, but I didn’t say anything; I just smiled slightly in a way intended to communicate that my own compliment had been mere graciousness and that I in fact believed his writing constituted a new low for his or any language, his or any art.”— Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner. This book was picked by Jonathan Franzen as one of the best books of 2011.
“I resolved to read as much as I wrote, to slowly but surely fill my shelves with books. Novels, short-story collections, poetry even. I’m not a good reader of poetry, but sometimes I do like to try unpicking a few lines before I turn out the light at night, a kind of surreptitious literary dessert. It’s probably taken me longer than most readers and writers to build up a library. I remain frustratingly slow at getting through a book, and these days I’m regularly exhausted – trying to get words in the right order really is an exacting job – so I’m forever falling asleep with pages face down on my chest.”— The Little Room of Danger and Depth by Nigel Featherstone
After a while, a young guy sitting in the corner nearest us finally asked what we’d been protesting about.
It was our big chance! One of the conceptual artists spoke at length about capitalism and the rise of student debt; Paul the anarchist spoke about the revolutions that had spread through the Arab world, and how, after the Arab Spring, it was time for an American Autumn. I could sense we were losing our audience, but couldn’t myself think of a better way to formulate our grievances. A series of laws, passed at the urging of the richest Americans, had over the years gutted the New Deal social contract, destroying job security, affordable health care, and quality public education, while a small segment of the population earned more money than anyone could know what to do with. As I formulated this in my head, Henry from the Bronx cut in.
“Police brutality,” he said quickly. “Stop-and-frisk.”
“Yeah?” said the guy in the corner.
His name was R. He was twenty-one years old. He had five thousand Facebook friends and made his living, he said, in the drug trade. He and Henry began discussing the movement. Now Thomas, who is working on a conceptual-art project dramatizing the crushing burden that student debt has become for a lot of American young people, asked how much debt R. had, and R. said that he had no debt, and thirty-five hundred dollars in the bank.
“That makes you richer than most Americans,” said Paul, the anarchist, stretching the point a little.
“Did you hear me?” said R. “I said thirty-five hundred dollars.”
“That’s right. But most Americans have debt. The fact that you have no debt means you’re rich.”
“Man,” said R. “I’m learning a lot in this jail cell.”
“… [Ruth Stone]’s been a poet her entire life and she told me that when she was growing up in rural Virginia, she would be out working in the fields, and she said she would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. And she said it was like a thunderous train of air. And it would come barreling down at her over the landscape. And she felt it coming, because it would shake the earth under her feet. She knew that she had only one thing to do at that point, and that was to, in her words, ‘run like hell.’ And she would run like hell to the house and she would be getting chased by this poem, and the whole deal was that she had to get a piece of paper fast enough so that when it thundered through her, she could collect it and grab it on the page.”—Elizabeth Gilbert describing Ruth Stone's particular genius in her wonderful TED Talk on nurturing creativity.
“Soon, I was yo-yoing between doubt and hope. I didn’t really think Poem Forest would make me feel better, but I convinced myself it could. It was the word “enchantment” that really did it for me, a tug toward the spiritual, what I took to be the possibility of a panacea.”—Marni Berger, in “Wandering in Poem Forest”
A very thoughtful article about the life and fate of Irène Némirovsky and The Mirador, the fictional memoir of Némirovsky by her daughter Élisabeth Gille, by Emily St. John Mandel in ‘The Millions’.
From Emily’s Review:
Consider the phrase “one imagines”; how many times have we read a memoir in which someone imagines childhood events which they themselves could not possibly have witnessed? Everyone runs up against some version of this when recollecting their own past: the point in which memory gives way to sense-images, sense-images to imaginings.
“No matter how liberal we consider ourselves about the slippery line between memoir and autobiographical fiction – even if we are more Exley than Oprah on the matter – there is still something that seems suspicious about the enterprise of full-on fictional memoir. Is this allowable? Can one simply jump in and narrate the course of another person’s life? Perhaps – if you do it right.”—
“My conclusion: if genre was once a signal to the reader that certain things would happen in a certain way and at a certain pace and to a certain kind of character, that definition is dead. As dead as a Scottish warrior turned zombie searching the criminal underbelly of modern day New York for the only woman he’s ever loved.”— The Genre Games by Kim Wright
“…[A] hippie nods at Vikar’s head and says, “Dig it, man. My favorite movie.”
Vikar nods. “I believe it’s a very good movie.”
“Love that scene at the end, man. There at the Planetarium.”
Vikar stands and in one motion brings the food tray flying up, roast beef and au jus spraying the restaurant–
–and brings the tray crashing down on the blasphemer across the table from him. He manages to catch the napkin floating down like a parachute, in time to wipe his mouth.
Oh, mother, he thinks. “A Place in the Sun, George Stevens,” he says to the fallen man, pointing at his own head. “NOT Rebel Without a Cause,” and strides out.”— from Steve Erickson's Zeroville, one of Emily St. John Mandel's Staff Picks